Pregnancy and postpartum are beautiful yet challenging periods that bring about profound changes in a woman's body, including the skin. During this time, the skin often becomes more sensitive due to hormonal changes and increased blood flow. I get asked so often by my patients can I still continue my skincare routine during pregnancy or breast feeding? It’s a great question and an important one to get right so let’s take a deeper dive.
Skincare During Pregnancy
When you're pregnant, everything that goes into and onto your body is now shared with your baby, making it crucial to reevaluate your skincare routine. Pregnancy, with all its hormonal swings, can affect your skin in unpredictable ways. For some, it can lead to a radiant glow, while for others, it might bring on unexpected skin issues like acne, hyperpigmentation, and sensitivity.
What to Avoid:
In addition to Retinoids and Hydroquinone, which are now commonly cautioned to steer clear from during pregnancy, there are several other ingredients that you need to be aware of when selecting your skincare.
High doses of Salicylic Acid have been shown in studies to cause various pregnancy complications. It's best to avoid products that contain a high concentration of salicylic acid, often found in products for acne treatment.
Particular Essential Oils
Essential oils like rosemary, clary sage, and others have been known to trigger uterine contractions and should be avoided during pregnancy.
Sunscreens that use chemicals like Oxybenzone and Avobenzone to filter UV rays can potentially interfere with hormones. Opt for mineral sunscreens instead.
Parabens and Phthalates
These are often used in cosmetics as preservatives and fragrances, respectively. Some studies suggest that they may disrupt the endocrine system, so it's best to use products that are 'paraben-free' and 'phthalate-free'.
What to Embrace:
While it may seem like there are countless ingredients to avoid, there are plenty of safe and beneficial alternatives to incorporate into your skincare routine.
As hormonal changes may cause your skin to become more sensitive and prone to breakouts, it’s important to keep it clean. Opt for a gentle cleanser that will remove impurities without stripping your skin of its natural oils.
Protect your skin from harmful UV rays with a physical (or mineral) sunscreen. Ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are safe and create a barrier to protect your skin.
Antioxidants like Vitamin C can help protect your skin from environmental damage. They're also great for brightening the skin, which can be beneficial if you're dealing with pregnancy-induced hyperpigmentation.
Hydration and Moisture
Keep your skin hydrated with a quality moisturizer. Look for ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid and peptides, which help maintain your skin's moisture barrier. If your skin is extra dry, you might also want to incorporate products with Glycerin, Shea Butter, or oils like Jojoba, Sesame, Baobab, Maurla, and Rosehip.
Safe Acne Treatments
If pregnancy brings on breakouts, don't despair. Some ingredients, like Azelaic Acid and Glycolic Acid, can help control acne and are widely considered ingredients that you can use throughout pregnancy. However, as with any new product, it's always best to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.
While you may be overjoyed at the arrival of your new baby, postpartum hormonal changes can take a toll on your skin. This period could bring about various skin issues, including acne, hyperpigmentation, dryness, and the appearance of stretch marks. Thus, adjustments to your skincare routine are often necessary.
What to Adjust:
Once you've given birth, many of the skincare restrictions from pregnancy are lifted, but there are still some considerations, especially if you are breastfeeding.
While some studies suggest that topical retinoids might be safe during breastfeeding, the research is not conclusive. Retinol is an active form of Vitamin A, and excessive amounts can potentially harm a nursing infant. Consult with your healthcare provider before reintroducing it into your routine.
If you're dealing with hyperpigmentation or melasma from pregnancy, you might be considering Hydroquinone. It can be an effective treatment, but its absorption rate into the bloodstream is quite high. As with Retinoids, it's best to discuss using Hydroquinone while breastfeeding with your healthcare provider.
What to Embrace:
Maintaining good skin care habits postpartum is crucial, and some new practices may be beneficial.
Keep up the habits mentioned above regarding cleansing, hydration and moisturizing. If hormonal changes are causing breakouts, continue with a gentle cleanser. Additionally, Your skin may become more dry and sensitive after giving birth. Continue to use a hydrating moisturizer, and consider adding a hydrating serum into your routine.
Even though pregnancy is over, sunscreen is still a must (it really should always be a priority)! Protecting your skin from sun exposure can help reduce postpartum hyperpigmentation and melasma.
If you're dealing with postpartum acne, you can now safely use products containing Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid. However, remember to start slow and monitor your skin for any signs of irritation.
Addressing Stretch Marks
For new stretch marks, keeping the area well-moisturized is key. Ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin E, and Centella Asiatica are known to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks over time. There are also specialized creams and oils available that are designed for stretch mark reduction. I recommend consulting with your doctor, and conducting some of your own research prior to integrating these products into your routine.
Continue to include Antioxidants in your routine. Vitamin C, for instance, is excellent for brightening the skin and combating any pigmentation issues that might have arisen during pregnancy.
The Beauty of Change
Navigating the world of skincare during pregnancy and postpartum can be a delicate dance. Hormonal changes can impact your skin in unpredictable ways, and harmful ingredients for developing babies make it necessary to reevaluate your skincare routine. While some adjustments may be necessary, including potentially giving up certain beloved products like our Quench and Illuminate, which contain cautionary ingredients for expectant mothers, there's still a world of skincare to embrace. Emphasizing gentle cleansers, such as our Rinse, can help you maintain a fresh and clean complexion while ensuring the safety and well-being of both you and your precious baby. Ample hydration, sun protection, and antioxidants will all be beneficial for those pregnancy-induced changes, and it's all about making informed choices to nurture your skin and body during this remarkable time in your life.
As a reminder, defying skin aging and embracing lifelong youthful looking skin is a marathon not a sprint. Your lifelong habit of using a comprehensive and effective skincare routine will make a world of difference, even when making modifications throughout pregnancy. My key tips are to: 1) continue to create a habit of consistent skincare 2) incorporate the Trifecta back into your routine when you safely can, and 3) practice could sun protection throughout and don't sweat temporary modifications you make during this season!
Remember, every woman's journey through pregnancy and postpartum is unique, and so are the changes in their skin. The key is to listen to your body, consult with your healthcare provider when in doubt, and make appropriate adjustments in your skincare routine.
While the journey may seem overwhelming, it's also an extraordinary period of change, transformation, and beauty. Through mindful skincare practices, you can confidently embrace these life-altering experiences while taking care of your skin's health.
PREGNANCY SKINCARE CHECKLIST:
- Retinoids and Hydroquinone
- Salicylic Acid often found in products for acne treatment
- Essential oils like rosemary & clary sage
- Chemical sunscreens
- Parabens and Phthalates often used in cosmetics as preservatives and fragrances
- Gentle cleansing
- Physical or mineral sunscreen
- Antioxidants like Vitamin C
- Hydration and Moisture like Shea Butter, or oils like Jojoba and Rosehip
- Safe Acne Treatments like Azelaic Acid and Glycolic Acid